Across the country today, LGBT Americans and their friends, families, and allies are celebrating a monumental decision by the Supreme Court.
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court found that states must recognize same sex unions and effectively made marriage equality the law of the land.
In his decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy explained why the majority believes that the right to marriage for same sex couples is guaranteed under the 14th Amendment:
- No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
Texas is one of thirteen states that still bans gay marriage, and Republicans did their best this legislative session to protect that right to discriminate – even going so far as filing bills that tried to circumvent the power of a ruling from the Supreme Court.
Attorney General Ken Paxton in a statement yesterday urged county clerks not to start giving out licenses to same sex couples in anticipation of the ruling: “…whatever the ruling, I would recommend that all County Clerks and Justices of the Peace wait for direction and clarity from this office about the meaning of the Court’s opinion and the rights of Texans under the law.”
Not all of the county clerks are on board with this plan.
Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir started issuing licenses to same sex couples at 10:30 AM Friday morning, and will continue issuing licenses throughout the day to anyone who is in line by 6:30 PM, according to a statement released this morning.
State and local lawmakers celebrated the decision, which effectively overturns Texas’ ban on same sex marriage.
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said, “Love won today. Texas Democrats joyfully celebrate and welcome the United States Supreme Court’s historic decision to let all Americans marry who they love, regardless of sexual orientation or identity.”
Houston’s Mayor, Annise Parker, released the following statement:
- At last! What a joyous, historic day for America, the LGBT community, individual families, the institution of marriage and the fight for equality. I used to think that I would not see this day in my lifetime. In recent years, however, it’s been clear that personal hearts and minds, and the courts, were headed in this direction. Marriage is about love, commitment, and family. Couples who make that commitment deserve to be respected under law, with the full legal protections that accompany a marriage license. Finally, they are!
While the ruling does end the ban on same sex marriage in Texas, LGBT Texans continue to face discrimination in many facets of their daily lives. Employers can still legally fire employees because of gender identity or expression. Landlords can deny residency to LGBT Texans, should they so choose. LGBT students and faculty are not covered in nondiscrimination policies in our schools.
Though multiple cities in Texas have passed nondiscrimination ordinances for their municipalities, these protections cannot extend to LGBT Texans living outside of urban centers, and will always be at risk of being challenged through state law during future legislative session. Today’s victory, though joyous, is also the first step in a long journey to true equality for all.